Being an Asian American woman and easy target for hate crimes during a pandemic

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I am an Asian woman. That is such a simple sentence, but yet there is so much going on with those few words.

Pandemic and hate crimes

We are currently still living in a pandemic. Things seem to be getting better. There is a dim light at the end of the tunnel that we are approaching. But we are STILL in a pandemic. On top of fearing that I might catch COVID because this virus can be deadly, I have to worry about myself simply because I am Asian.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by 150% over the previous year. COVID-19 definitely has played a role in this, where people have blamed Asian Americans for the cause of this virus and that we are the virus. Over the recent months, I noticed a huge increase in attacks on Asian Americans. At first, it was more targeted towards elderly. But now it seems like just being any kind of Asian and any age, you are targeted.

Growing up in Oakland

I was born and raised in Oakland. It is not the safest place. I was taught very early on not only to be independent, but I have to be aware of my surroundings at all times. I started walking home alone since middle school, it’s about a 30 minute walk. I try not to wear headphones, but if I do, I would just have one on and leave the other one out so I can hear what’s going on. Whenever someone is walking behind me or close to me, I get paranoid and I just have to take a look at the person discreetly then evaluate if my safety is at risk. This is all very natural to me but it is also scary. Whenever I walked out of my car in the driveway towards my house, I couldn’t help but think “Is there someone hiding and coming to attack me?” “What if someone just pops up and tries to rob me?” I can’t help but have these thoughts cross my mind EVERY SINGLE TIME. My mom has been robbed at the bus stop just a block away from my house at gunpoint. Both my dad and brother have been robbed before. My ex’s family has been robbed at gunpoint inside their house. Sad to say, all of this is very common growing up from Oakland.

Why is that? Oakland has its cuts and terrifying parts. But it’s also that Asians are known as easy targets because we are “passive” and we don’t fight back. Growing up in an Asian culture, we are very big on respect, especially to elders. We’re taught to never “bother people” or “make a big deal out of things” or “don’t trouble other people”. So there are times, we just take things as they are.

Recent attacks on Asian Americans

But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It started with attacks in Oakland Chinatown. People robbed the elderly Asians and shoved them directly to the floor for NO REASON. There’s been so many footages on these (thanks to cameras, you’re a game changer) and I think this started to be more noticeable in the Asian community. There was a robbery 4 blocks from my parents’ house and at a shop right next to the coffee shop my dad goes to daily. An elderly man from San Francisco DIED from someone pushing him to the ground. Another person was brain damaged by Lake Merritt when he was just simply going for a walk, minding his own business. THIS IS TERRIFYING. I fear for my parents and for all my Asian American people. When this first started to happen in the recent months, I mentioned it to my manager (he’s white) and he had no idea what I was talking about. That showed me it’s not really being publicized and it is not known outside the Asian community. Of course, I proceeded to send him at least 4 articles of different incidents that have occurred.

Then comes the the Atlanta shooting, where a man shoots 6 Asian women (8 people died) at Asian parlors but apparently it is “not a hate crime” and he was just “having a bad day”. The press conference threw me over the floor and I was sad, depressed, and livid all at the same time. But that is when we started to get more media coverage on anti-Asian hate crimes, which has been happening for awhile. Does it really have to take a mass shooting in order for people to finally realize it is an issue?

I still see new attacks every single day. A grandma was attacked on Market street but she defended herself and beat the attacker after (go grandma!). A woman was dragged in a vehicle when she was getting robbed in San Francisco. A 19-year old got shot in the eye by 4 men. These are just a few in the last week and there are many more that I have not listed. They’re all so close to home and it just makes me very disheartened. Why are people like this? Why do they have to attack our people? Asians are raised to grow up in peace, to be respectful and to lay low. Yet apparently this makes us an easy target? This needs to stop. People cannot like our food but yet hate our race. It does not work like that. Over half the stuff people own is probably made in China. These attackers need to be prosecuted. These is definitely a bigger problem here that involves our systems, but I’m going to just leave it at that for now. Do better.

What can we all do to help

  • Check up on your Asian American friends and colleagues. Honestly, this means a lot. I had a conversion with my colleague and she was disappointed at her non-Asian friends for not saying a word or checking in. A simple “how are you feeling?” or “I stand by the Asian American community” goes a really long way. At this time, we really need to know that people stand by and support us.
  • Keep an eye out when you’re out and about, whether you’re at the grocery store or going for a walk. If you see someone getting harassed or someone looking suspicious, please please please keep an eye out and speak up. The person would really thank you and appreciate you for watching out. This can possibly prevent an attack and make a huge difference.
  • Read more about these attacks and educate yourself. Do a quick Google search on “recent attacks on Asians” or something similar (or just click the links I’ve listed above). I assure you there will be articles that show up and read about those specific incidents. It’s heartbreaking but I think people need to be more aware of what is going on. It’s only like last week when we started to get more coverage on this issue but even then, I’m not sure if people understand the extensiveness of this it. Hate crimes against Asian have been around for a very long time. It’s in the more recent times when these attacks have increased exponentially due to COVID.
  • Support your local Asian American businesses and restaurants. Businesses have been struggling because of the pandemic. Getting takeout at your favorite Asian restaurant would be helpful to contribute to their financials.
  • Be kind and have compassion. I never thought I would be living through a pandemic. That itself is extremely stressful. Now adding mass shooting and attacks. Please be kind to one another.
  • Donate to the AAPI Community Fund (optional). Donations will help organizations that empower the AAPI community, with initiatives such as increased safety in the community and support those who have been affected by the attacks.

Adding to the things that I have to worry about like contracting COVID, being a woman as I’m scared to get kidnapped or attacked as a woman, and now just simply being an Asian American. Everyone, please stay safe.

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